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Police chief: 'Plebgate row could damage confidence in police'
THE ‘Plebgate’ saga could damage the reputation of police officers and their relationship with the community, Wycombe’s police chief has said.
Superintendent Gilbert Houalla is fearful residents will lose confidence in the integrity of his police officers in the wake of the scandal.
Ex-Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell was accused of calling police officers ‘plebs’ during a row at Downing Street in September 2012 – a claim he has always denied but it ultimately led to his resignation.
The version of events given by the officers are now being called into question, but they told MPs last week that their account was “accurate”.
Supt Houalla said: “The 'plebgate' situation is potentially damaging our reputation as police officers and our relationships with our communities.
"I understand how this could make the community question ‘if the police could do this to a minister, what can they do to us’?
"It has even been stated in the media that nationally as crime is falling, so now is confidence in the police.
"I don't want to go into too many details of this particular case as it is not my place to comment, but I do want to take this opportunity to reassure our community that police in Wycombe are all hard working and decent officers with the best interest of the public at the heart of what they do.
"The values, expectations and importance of trust and integrity within this policing area are driven by my management team on a daily basis and I have every confidence my officers display these behaviours.
"Crime is falling in Wycombe and I really hope that our community's confidence in the police is increasing."
Eight people, including five officers, have been arrested as part of the Operation Alice inquiry looking into alleged misconduct and the unauthorised leaking of information about the altercation to the press.
The Crown Prosecution Service is currently considering charges.
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